AVONDALE — The whiskey is flowing at Judson & Moore, a family-run craft distillery that recently opened in Avondale after seven years of planning.
The 5,800-square-foot tasting room and adjoining production facility is the latest business to join Rockwell on the River at 3057 N. Rockwell St., an industrial complex home to Metropolitan Brewing and Metropolis Coffee Co.
Husband-and-wife owners Elise Bergman, a fashion designer and hospitality creative, and Collin Moore, an engineer, opened Judson & Moore in an early 1900s leather tannery last month. Bergman handles the creative side of the business and Moore is lead distiller.
The distillery specializes in whiskey — Moore has Tennessee roots — with a current menu of rye, bourbon, red corn bourbon and single-malt whiskey.
All of the whiskey is made in-house using a 500-gallon custom Vendome copper still, Minnesota white oak barrels and Midwestern grains, a nod to Bergman’s upbringing.
Patrons can order whiskey flights off the tasting menu or whiskey-forward cocktails at the bar. Bottles of Judson & Moore whiskey are also available to buy at the tasting room, which is open 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and 2-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Judson & Moore is named after Elise Bergman’s father and the business’s co-founder, Jud Bergman, who a driver killed in San Francisco in 2019. Elise Bergman’s stepmother and two others also died in the crash.
Before Jud Bergman’s death, he pushed his daughter and son-in-law to open a creative business with him to combine all of their talents, Elise Bergman said. Jud Bergman was a tech finance executive who founded the now-$3 billion dollar company Envestnet.
“My dad, in a very familiar way, was like, ‘I have this idea … you’re a designer. You’re an engineer. You’re from Tennessee. I think we should make whiskey.’ A very fun, a-ha moment,” Elise Bergman said.
The couple worked for seven years to get the business off the ground, navigating not only the sudden death of their champion and co-founder, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, the city licensing process and a 2015 fire that ripped the roof off the Avondale building — all in between growing their family. They have three kids.
Elise Bergman, who grew up in suburban Barrington and in the city, said it’s “delightful and surreal” to finally be open.
“These moments when we’ve hit milestones, I certainly wish my dad was here; his joy was infectious. But it’s easy to shift from feeling disappointment to feeling pride and delight, knowing how much he would’ve enjoyed this as a community space,” she said.
In addition to serving whiskey, Judson & Moore is a live music venue of sorts. On Thursdays, the distillery hosts local roots, Americana and folk acts curated by Sully Davis of Local Universe and The Hideout. The owners also plan to throw ticketed events with national touring acts.
On top of many other creative pursuits, Elise Bergman and Moore are members of a bluegrass band called Big Sadie.
Their Chicago music industry connections helped them land distribution partnerships with bars and restaurants. Judson & Moore spirits are sold in Lula Café, Bungalow by Middlebrow, The Duck Inn, Mordecai, Atwood, The Charleston and The Long Room.
“Chicago is such an amazing city. I grew up here, left for a little bit, but I’m proud to be back here,” Elise Bergman said.
“We are surrounded by so many natural resources, amazing farms and farmers, and I feel like we’re trying to represent Chicago well through our relationships and through having a space for people to really enjoy the bounty of the lake and the surrounding farms and the amazing musicians we have in town.”
Go here for more information about Judson & Moore.
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